How to do water marbling nails

Written by lisa green
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How to do water marbling nails
Use 1960s inspired nail polish colours to create a marbling effect. (Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

The art of water marbling, also known as ebru, was developed in ancient Turkey. The practice involved swirling different coloured pigments together in water to create a marble pattern. In today's society, natural or artificial finger nails are dipped into a floating marble pattern containing a mixture of water and nail polish, creating the same swirling effect. The look is achieved using two complementary nail polish shades.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Sellotape
  • Glass bowl
  • 2 nail polishes (different colours)
  • Toothpick
  • Orange stick
  • Cotton bud
  • Nail polish remover
  • Clear top coat polish

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  1. 1

    Protect the skin surrounding the first natural nail with scotch tape. Artificial nails do not require tape.

  2. 2

    Fill a glass bowl about 90 per cent full with water.

  3. 3

    Add alternating drops of two different coloured nail polishes into the water.

  4. 4

    Drag a toothpick or orange stick lightly across the water's surface to swirl the colours in different directions, creating a marble pattern.

  5. 5

    Dip the natural or artificial finger nail face down into the water. Use the toothpick or orange stick to gather and twist the polish onto the nail. Lift the coated nail out of the water.

  6. 6

    Peel away the scotch tape carefully from the skin. Remove excess nail polish with a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover. Apply clear top coat polish to the natural and artificial nails once marble design is dry. Continue the process on the rest of the nails.

Tips and warnings

  • Water marbling works best on smooth nails, so buff with a buffing block to soften ridges before applying polish.
  • For a vibrant finish on natural nails, paint the nails with an undercoat of white nail polish and allow them to dry before applying the marbling pattern.

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